New AuroraWatch UK Magnetometer

Thanks to generous funding from GradConsult, an SME specialising in graduate employment, the AuroraWatch UK team are pleased to announce that a new magnetometer will soon be added to our aurora alert network.

As part of their newly-founded microgrant scheme, Gradconsult have provided funding for us to build a new Raspberry Pi based magnetometer and to deploy it at a location in the north of the UK. Whilst discussions about colloborations are still on-going, we are hopeful that this new magnetometer will be installed in Shetland – the very northern tip of the UK.

A view of EshaNess Lighthouse located on the Northmavine Peninsula, Shetland. Taken by Steve Bittinger. Flickr. CC BY 2.0

If located in Shetland, this new magnetometer would be the most northerly instrument in the AuroraWatch UK alert system. In fact, it would be over 200 miles north of our current most northerly magnetometer at Crooktree, Aberdeen. This should allow us to detect even the weakest of auroral activity, and may allow us to detect auroral activity slightly earlier on than we do now.

It will also mean that we have a good coverage of magnetometers along the length of the UK. This coverage will allow us to scientifically study the variations in the earth’s magnetic field, caused by the aurora, on a (relatively!) small spatial scale.

This work builds on a past proof-of-concept project that we collaborated on. Our aim is to try to reduce the cost of a Raspberry Pi based magnetometer, so that it could be useful for future citizen science efforts.

We aim to have this magnetometer, along with our AuroraCam, up and running by the start of the next aurora season. As always, we’ll keep you updated on our progress!

Full press release here.